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How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

Event tracking is one of the most useful features in Google Analytics.

With just a little bit of extra code, you can capture all kinds of information about how people behave on your site.

Event tracking lets you monitor just about any action that doesn’t trigger a new page to load, such as watching a video or clicking on an outbound link. This data can be invaluable in improving your site.

There are two different ways you can set up event tracking in Google Analytics. One way is to add the code manually. The other is to set up tracking through Google Tag Manager.

Both methods are doable without a developer, although you may find it easier to use Google Tag Manager if you have no coding experience.

How to set up event tracking manually

What exactly is an event? Before you start tracking events, it’s important to understand how they’re put together. Each event is made up of four components that you define. These are category, action, label, and value.

Category

A category is an overall group of events. You can create more than one type of event to track in the same category “basket.”

For instance, you could create a category called Downloads to group a number of different events involving various downloads from your site.

Action

An event’s action describes the particular action that the event is set up to track. If you’re tracking downloads of a PDF file, for instance, you might call your event’s action Download PDF.

Label

Your label provides more information about the action taken. For instance, if you have several PDFs available for download on your site, you can keep track of how many people download each one by labeling each separate event with the PDF’s title.

A label is optional, but it’s almost always a good idea to use one.

Value

Value is an optional component that lets you track a numerical value associated with an event. Unlike the first three components, which are made up of text, value is always an integer.

For instance, if you wanted to keep track of a video’s load time, you would use the value component to do so. If you don’t need to keep track of anything numerical, it’s fine to leave this component out of your event.

A table of the four components of an event. Source: Google Analytics

Step one: Decide how to structure your reports

Before you dive into tracking your events, come up with a plan for how you want your data to be organized. Decide which categories, actions, and labels you’ll use, and choose a clear and consistent naming pattern for them.

Remember, if you decide to change the structure of your event tracking later, your data won’t be reorganized retroactively. A little thought and planning up front can save you a lot of hassle down the road.

Step two: Connect your site to Google Analytics

If you haven’t done so already, set up a Google Analytics property and get your tracking ID. You can find your tracking ID by going to the admin section of your GA account and navigating to the property you want to track.

Once you have your ID, add the following snippet right after the <head> tag of each page:

<!-- Global Site Tag (gtag.js) - Google Analytics -->
<script async src="https://www.googletagmanager.com/gtag/js?id=GA_TRACKING_ID"></script>
<script>
window.dataLayer = window.dataLayer || [];
function gtag(){dataLayer.push(arguments);}
gtag('js', new Date());

gtag('config', 'GA_TRACKING_ID');
</script>

This code snippet enables Google Analytics to track events on your site. Replace GA_TRACKING_ID with your own tracking ID. Source: Analytics Help

Step three: Add code snippets to elements you want to track

Here is the format for an event tracking code snippet:

ga('send', 'event', [eventCategory], [eventAction], [eventLabel], [eventValue], [fieldsObject]);

After filling in the information that defines the event you want to track, add this snippet to the relevant element on your webpage. You’ll need to use something called an event handler to do so.

An event handler is a HTML term that triggers your tracking code to fire when a specific action is completed. For instance, if you wanted to track how many times visitors clicked on a button, you would use the onclick event handler and your code would look like this:

<button onclick="ga('send', 'event', [eventCategory], [eventAction], [eventLabel], [eventValue], [fieldsObject]);">Example Button Text</button>

You can find a list of common event handlers, as well as a more in-depth explanation on how they work, here.

Step four: Verify that your code is working

Once you’ve added event tracking code to your page, the final step is to make sure it’s working. The simplest way to do this is to trigger the event yourself. Then, check Google Analytics to see if the event showed up.

You can view your tracked events by clicking “Behavior” in the sidebar and scrolling down to “Events.”

How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

Your tracked events can be found under “Behavior” in Google Analytics.

How to set up event tracking with Google Tag Manager

Google Tag Manager can be a little tricky to navigate if you aren’t familiar with it. However, if you’ve never worked with code before, you might find tracking events with GTM easier than doing it manually.

If you have a large site or you want to track many different things, GTM can also help you scale your event tracking easily.

Step one: Enable built-in click variables

You’ll need GTM’s built-in click variables to create your tags and triggers, so start by making sure they are enabled. Select “Variables” in the sidebar and click the “Configure” button.

How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

Enabling built-in click variables, step one

Then make sure all the click variables are checked.

How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

Enabling built-in click variables, step two. Source

Step two: Create a new tag for the event you want to track

Click “Tags” on the sidebar. Then click the “New” button. You’ll have the option to select your tag type. Choose “Universal Analytics.”

How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

Creating a new tag in Google Tag Manager

Step three: Configure your tag

Set your new tag’s track type to “Event.” Fill in all the relevant information – category, action, label, etc. – in the fields that appear underneath, and click “Continue.”

How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

An example of how to configure a new tag in Google Tag Manager. Source: Analytics Help

Step four: Specify your trigger

Specify the trigger that will make your tag fire – for instance, a click. If you are creating a new trigger (as opposed to using one you’ve created in the past), you will need to configure it.

How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

Types of triggers that you can choose in Google Tag Manager

How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

An example of how to configure a trigger. This one fires when a certain URL is clicked. Source: Johannes Mehlem

Step five: Save the finished tag

After you save your trigger, it should show up in your tag. Click “Save Tag” to complete the process.

How to set up event tracking in Google Analytics

A tag that is ready to go. Source: Analytics Help

The takeaway and extra resources

Event tracking is one of the most useful and versatile analytics techniques available – you can use it to monitor nearly anything you want. While this guide will get you started, there’s a lot more to know about event tracking with Google Analytics, so don’t be afraid to look for resources that will help you understand event tracking.

Courses like the 2018 Google Analytics Bootcamp on Udemy (which I used to help write this article) will give you a solid grounding in how to use Google Analytics and Google Tag Manager, so you’ll be able to proceed with confidence.

AMP: Do or die? Session recap from SMX West

Contributor Christine Churchill sat in on one of the AMP sessions at SMX West and shares the detailed and contrasting perspectives the panelists plus one Google engineer have on using AMP.

The post AMP: Do or die? Session recap from SMX West appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Google launches cost-per-sale Shopping Actions, unified shopping program across Search, Assistant & Express

In its answer to Amazon, Google’s new umbrella program will extend existing relationships with retailers and enable universal checkout across platforms and devices.

The post Google launches cost-per-sale Shopping Actions, unified shopping program across Search, Assistant & Express appeared…



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Google Core Algorithm Update Continues To Fluctuate For Some

A week ago Friday there was a Google core algorithm update that touched down pretty hard. Technically it was released on March 7th but most noticed it on March 8th and 9th. But people are still noticing it.

The ongoing WebmasterWorld thread has a ton of chatter still about the update…

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Building Links Through Social Responsibility & Taking a Stand by @tonynwright

Is link building through social responsibility right for your business or brand? Click here to find out.

The post Building Links Through Social Responsibility & Taking a Stand by @tonynwright appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

12 SEO tips for large ecommerce websites

Approaching SEO for large ecommerce sites can be overwhelming.

With more pages than you can even get your head around and issues like product variants, complex filtering systems and expired products, SEO for ecommerce sites requires a different kind of SEO strategy.

Let’s be clear: all of the same keyword research and onsite optimization practices apply to ecommerce sites as they would for your standard brochure site. That’s the first step in the process, and we won’t cover those points here.

However, for ecommerce sites, it’s necessary to take things a step (or ten) further. In this post, we share our SEO tips for large ecommerce sites. Optimization for ecommerce takes time, but we’ll also provide tips to help streamline the process without scrimping.

Here goes…

Ensure your site is on HTTPS

Safety first! Although this falls under general optimization for all sites, switching to HTTPS is particularly important for ecommerce sites. With exchanges of personal details and users trusting you with highly sensitive payment information, security is of the utmost importance.

As well as ensuring that your SSL certificate is correctly implemented, make sure to be transparent in communicating your security compliance to users.

Provide detailed information on the steps you have taken to offer utmost levels of security, and display any relevant logos to demonstrate that you comply with certain security standards.

Optimize category pages

Now that your website is more secure than Fort Knox, it’s time to focus on optimizing those all-important category pages. These are the pages on which to target those top-level keywords and should be high traffic generators.

Category pages often flop due to issues with thin content. Text is frequently left by the wayside in favor of showcasing the products. However, this approach is potentially catastrophic in terms of rankings. It always pays to have at least a solid paragraph of copy to describe the category.

To further bolster the ranking potential of your category pages, try to focus your link-building campaign on generating links to them. Since the category pages serve as gateways to your products, it is a good idea to prioritize these in your site optimization efforts.

Optimize product pages

Product pages can cause a real headache for optimization. The same issues often occur for the products pages as they do for the category pages – except there are tons more product pages to deal with. Think thin content, duplicate content, and non-existent metadata.

A good place to start is with the product descriptions. Get into the habit of writing unique descriptions for each product. It can be tempting to copy and paste the description from the manufacturer, but this means placing duplicate content on your site. And that’s SEO suicide.

SEO aside, don’t forget that these descriptions are fundamental in actually selling the product and increasing conversions. Try to tell a story with the description – make it interesting, enticing and in line with your brand personality. Speed up the process by devising a format for the product descriptions.

For example, one format could specify a title, short description, bullet point list of features, and a final note on the product. This will ensure consistency and also speed up the content creation process for your writers.

Consider including user-generated content on the product pages, including social media mentions and reviews. This will provide social signals, as well as helping to increase conversions and bring further unique content to the page.

Don’t forget to write unique title tags based on careful keyword research. Again, it’s worth creating a standard format for these titles, for ease and consistency. Enticing meta descriptions may not help you rank higher but they will increase click-throughs from the SERPs. Try to include popular, eye-catching words or phrases, such as ‘free delivery’, ‘buy now’ ‘sale’, ‘reduced’ or ‘new’.

If you have thousands of products then you’ll need to prioritize. You may be an SEO whizz, but you’re not Superman/Wonder Woman/insert superhero of choice. Adopt a top-down approach and start by optimizing the most popular products first.

Product variants

One of the questions we get asked a lot is what on earth to do about product variants. By this we mean different styles, sizes, colours and models of one product. If flicking between these different options generates a new URL for each variant, then you’ll be running into some serious duplicate content and keyword cannibalization issues.

So what’s the fix? The best approach is to display options where the user can change the color, size or model but without the URL changing in the process. The exception to this would be if different colors or other variables are crucial to the product and will rank separately in the SERPs.

Ultimately, though, you don’t want these pages to be competing with each other. If you do have different product variants, then be sure to canonicalize the main product version.

‘Purchase intent’ keywords

We’re not going to provide a complete guide to keyword research in this post. But what we will say is this: be sure to include plenty of purchase intent keywords, e.g. ‘Buy [insert product]’.

Users typing in such search terms are likely to be further down the sales funnel and therefore more likely to convert. Remember that SEO is not just about driving traffic; it’s about driving conversions, and therefore revenue.

Images

Let’s not forget the images: humans are visual animals at the end of the day. Deploy only the highest quality images to entice potential customers. Ensure product images are not too large or they could slow the page speed.

Plus, don’t forget the importance of image search – add appropriate alternative text to all images.

Be wary of filters

The vast majority of ecommerce sites have some form of filtering system to help users find the products most relevant to them. Although these are super handy for the user, the trouble is that some filtering systems generate unique URLs for every type of filter search.

What’s so bad about that? Well, it means that one site could have thousands and thousands of indexed pages, all with duplicate content issues. As a result, it can make your site look frighteningly like a content farm in the eyes of Google’s pet Panda.

Check Google Search Console to see how many pages have been indexed for your site. If the number is unfathomably high then the best solution is to add a meta robots tag with parameters noindex, follow to the filtered pages. It will lead to these pages being dropped from the index, and you’ll no longer have to lose sleep over them.

Expired or out of stock items

One of the key issues with ecommerce sites is that products come and go a lot. There’s no need to remove out of stock items from the site, as you could be missing out on valuable search traffic.

Instead, leave the product page live, but specify when the product is due back in stock and provide similar options in the meantime.

If a product expires and will no longer be sold then you’ll need to remove the page. However, do not forget to redirect the page! Set up a permanent 301 redirect for a newer version of the product, a similar product, or to the relevant category page.

Site architecture

Providing seamless internal navigation is essential not only for good user experience but also to help Google crawl and index your site. Ensure that categories are linked to from the homepage and that products are linked to from the category pages.

Provide links to products in blog content in order to continue the user journey and funnel them towards making a purchase. Try to link any new products from the homepage, as it will increase their chances of being indexed quicker by Google and getting found faster by users.

Breadcrumbs are also an important addition, as they ensure that every part of the user’s path is clickable. This helps users navigate back to parent categories as quickly and easily as possible. Plus, they also appear in Google’s search results, giving users an immediate overview of the site structure.

Pay attention to URLs

With large ecommerce sites, it’s all too easy for URLs to get overly complex. Keep them clean and ditch parameters to ensure they are devoid of jumbled, nonsensical characters.

Be neat and tidy by sticking to lower case letters, utilizing hyphens instead of underscores and keeping them short but sweet.

Schema for product pages

Adding schema markup to your product pages is absolutely crucial for improving the appearance of your site in the SERPs. Enhanced results means greater click-throughs.

There are two types of schema that you should add to your products: product schema and review schema.

Each product page should use the same template and therefore have a consistent layout. This means you can add schema markup to the template using microdata and the schema will be generated for each new product page.

Just make sure that you regularly test your schema using Google’s Structured Data Testing Tool, and if you’re new to it all, then utilize Google’s Markup Helper.

Monitoring

As with any SEO strategy, you need to be continually monitoring and analyzing the results. This is even more important for ecommerce sites, due to the scale and constant changing of products.

Stay on top of identifying broken links and error pages. Analyse what’s working and what’s not, note popular keywords and pages, and address those not performing well for organic search. For the best results, it’s always worth engaging in some A/B testing – whether this is for keywords, product description formats or images.

There’s no doubt that SEO for large ecommerce sites is time-consuming. That’s why so many ecommerce sites don’t have the level of optimization they should, which presents a fantastic opportunity for those who are willing to put in the grind. Small, incremental changes can make a big difference.

AMA with Google highlights: The core search algorithm update, mobile-first index status & more

From nofollow links to negative SEO, the core search algorithm and Google showing zero search results — catch up on what Google’s Nathan Johns had to say at SMX West.

The post AMA with Google highlights: The core search algorithm update, mobile-first index status & more appeared first on…



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Why C-Suite Execs Aren’t Buying Your SEO Pitch by @bsmarketer

You’re pitching SEO to executives leading big businesses, but they aren’t buying. Why? Here are four big reasons.

The post Why C-Suite Execs Aren’t Buying Your SEO Pitch by @bsmarketer appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Emily Mace – The Search Community Honors You

This is part of the say something nice about an SEO/SEM series – feel free to nominate someone over here.

Emily Mace is an international SEO who devotes a tremendous amount of her time to helping her colleagues understand the complex world of SEO for multiple regions and languages…